Vaccinating 20% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean will cost more than $ 2,000 million, according to the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which on Wednesday urged to view vaccines as a “smart and necessary investment. “.
“We know that administering a vaccine will be difficult and expensive,” PAHO Deputy Director Jarbas Barbosa said at a press conference.
“In fact,” he added, “the latest projections from the COVAX Facility for Latin America and the Caribbean estimate that vaccinating 20% of the population will cost more than $ 2 billion”.
The official was referring to estimates made by the global procurement mechanism of the COVAX Facility, a global alliance of the World Health Organization (WHO) that several countries have joined to facilitate the equitable distribution of future vaccines against the virus.
Despite recent “good news” regarding the development of potential covid-19 vaccines, Barbosa warned that only one “that has been shown to be safe and effective will be approved by regulatory bodies, approved by the WHO and ultimately. , made available by COVAX “. “So there is still a lot to do,” he said.
Some 180 countries have joined the COVAX Facility and are guaranteed initial doses of the vaccine to cover at least 3% of their populations in the early stages, with the goal of reaching 20% enough to protect those most at risk.
In contrast, Barbosa warned of a drop in vaccination rates against other diseases, due to the pandemic.
“This year, nine countries in the Americas region reported a total of 8,479 measles cases, including eight deaths, and five countries reported 56 cases of diphtheria, including 16 deaths. Both diseases can be completely prevented with vaccines, ”he added. the head of PAHO, who championed vaccines as “a global public good.”
Regarding the pandemic figures, Barbosa said that in the past week in the Americas region, nearly 1.5 million cases and 19,000 deaths have been reported.
Since the onset of the health crisis, said PAHO’s deputy director, more than 23 million people have contracted the disease and more than 680,000 have lost their lives in the region.
Barbosa noted that the United States, the country worst hit by the pandemic, “remains a major driver of new infections,” with more than a million new infections confirmed just last week. He pointed out that Mexico has already passed one million cases, while in Canada the rebound of the disease continues.
The PAHO official wanted to draw attention to Central America, which after being hit by Hurricane Eta, is suffering the impact of another phenomenon, Iota, which the official said could threaten the regional response to the pandemic.
“Countries must remain vigilant. All countries must continue to monitor their epidemic situation and, if new infections appear, they must quickly adapt their responses to avoid new outbreaks,” he recommended.